Ever heard of a doula? Doula is an ancient Greek word that translates as “woman who serves.” Specifically, it’s come to mean someone who serves as a birth attendant, a person trained in childbirth who acts in support of a birthing mother. A doula provides knowledge, comfort, and an extra pair of hands -- whether it’s to provide nourishment or massage, or help a mother find a comfortable position. As you may ...

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shutterstock_263182502 Being a nurse is one of the most important jobs in any society. It is also one of the most respected. Public opinion polls consistently rank nurses as the most trusted profession -- usually ranking well above physicians. And it’s for good reason. Patients in hospital may forget who their doctor is, but they will rarely forget their nurse. The doctor ...

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shutterstock_237020656 A couple of years ago, I asked a friend of mine how she met her husband.  It was at a bar, and when she asked his occupation he replied, “I work for the city.”  She took that to mean he was a construction worker.  They began dating and quickly fell in love.  Much to her surprise about a month into their ...

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Dwight Frost had all the risk factors, plus he had already had a stroke several years ago. His blood sugars were too high, his lipid profile was near the top of the class, he still smoked a cigar now and then, and his blood pressure hovered around 200. He also seemed a little vague about which medications he actually took and which ones he didn’t. He spoke rapidly with a slight ...

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shutterstock_141318316 I understand that there is a difference between perception and reality.  I also get that the kind of people one meets on a tropical vacation in the middle of March are of a certain economic and sociopolitical status. Nonetheless, I am amazed at how history seems to repeat itself.  Year after year, while sitting in the shade and relaxing by the pool, ...

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I walked into room 30 to find two eager sets of eyes awaiting me. One set belonged to a young man, late-twenties, muscular and imposing, sitting in a chair in the corner of the room. His eyes were hazel brown, big and inviting, relieved at seeing my entry into their sheltered world. The other set of eyes, darker brown and magnified by her gold-stemmed glasses, belonged to my patient, a ...

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American physicians have had it.  We are retiring early, cutting back, changing careers, and moping in to work in astounding numbers.  The typical pep talks, whether given aloud by medical directors and administrators or consisting of internal dialog occurring in the physician’s mind, are not working anymore.  “You have it better than most people.”  “You are still making good money.”  “Your patients still need you.”  “It will get better.” “You ...

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Thomas Hobbes described life as pitifully “nasty, brutish, and short.” Thanks to the free market and the state, life is no longer a Hobbesian nightmare. But death has become nasty, brutish, and long. Surgeon and writer, Atul Gawande, explores the medicalization of aging and death in Being Mortal. Gawande points to a glaring deficiency in medical education. Taught to save lives and fight death, doctors don’t bow out gracefully and say enough ...

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CryingDoctor-640x480 Outside of a Southern California hospital, an ER doctor is crouched down against a concrete wall grieving the loss of his 19-year-old patient. A paramedic snaps a photo of the tender scene. His coworker, a close friend of the doctor, posts the photo (with permission) online. Minutes after the photograph, the doctor returns to work “holding his head high.” Thousands of people have ...

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In mid-January, a patient called me from her pharmacy, frantic. Her asthma inhalers came to $168 -- a sum that she hadn’t been prepared for. But she can’t live without those inhalers, so she withdrew cash from her meager savings account and skipped her blood pressure pills for that month. This is such a familiar story by now that it hardly makes news. Yet it is tragic, every single time, when ...

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